Baby Sea Dragons!

By Guido Trombetta on 8:02 PM

ZooBorns is a very very nice blog that I advice you to follow if you are, like me, fond of the animal world. It presents almost daily, cute photos and videos of the newly born animals from zoos and aquariums all over the world. This time it has been the turn of some really unusual pups: Weedy Seadragons babies from the Georgia Aquarium.

Phyllopteryx taeniolatus, the Weedy Seadragon or Common Seadragon, is a marine fish related to the
seahorse. It is the only member of the genus Phyllopteryx. It is found in water 3 to 50 m deep around the southern coastline of Australia, approximately between Port Stephens, New South Wales and Geraldton, Western Australia, as well as around Tasmania. Weedy Seadragons are named for the weed-like projections on their bodies that camouflage them as they move among the seaweed beds where they are usually found. Weedy Seadragons can reach 45 cm in length. They feed on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton, from places such as crevices in reef, which are sucked into the end of their long tube-like snout. They lack a prehensile tail that enables similar species to clasp and anchor themselves. Phyllopteryx taeniolatus swim in shallow reefs and weed beds, and resemble drifting weed when moving over bare sand.
Seadragons, seahorses and pipefish are the only known species where the male carries the eggs as you can see in the above picture.

The female lays up to 250 to 300 eggs onto the soft underside of the male's tail. The eggs are embedded into the skin in cup-like structures that harden and form around each egg to hold and protect them during brooding. After about two months, the bright pink eggs hatch into miniature juveniles, which settle into the vegetation.

After the babies were born they were transferred into a special off-exhibit holding system to keep them safe from adult dragons and allow the aquarists to provide them with special food items such as tiny mysid shrimp. They have since grown to approximately ½ adult size but are large enough to safely navigate in the exhibit and forage for food. Although they are smaller and less colorful, and have a much shorter snout, the juvenile Weedy sea dragon closely resembles the adult. The new babies are about 4-4.5 inches long and weighed less than an ounce at birth. They join the ten adult sea dragons within the habitat.


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